Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Style: Mask Round-up

I have no doubt that Courtesan Macabre readers know how to put together a Halloween costume... So, instead, I'm going to advocate that we all dress impeccably and enhance our beauty with a gorgeous mask.  I searched my favorite boutiques and have gathered my favorite pieces of wearable art for your ensembles tonight...

I found that I had a fondness for aviary looks this season.  The cut leather bird mask had a simple but dramatic silhouette enhanced by its height.  The red and black feather mask could pass for an elaborate hairstyle.

The Venetian look is always elegant.  Modern crafters and designers are giving their own take on the classic look.  Vivo Masks have an antiqued silver mask reminiscent of ancient theatrical productions.  The carved resin fire dragon mask is a sculpture for the face.

Mixing wood grain and metal studs mask has a Steampunk look for the guys who want something more masculine. The lacy blue butterfly mask mixes modern laser cut techniques with traditional flourishes for a pretty feminine look.

Last but not least, there was a great leather and light-up mask that looked like it had classic soutache embroidery motifs except the look was achieved in glowing EL Wire.  

Now get thee to a masked ball already!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Superheroes and Villains of Cosplay at NYCC

We must remember the COMIC portion of New York Comic-Con... There may be many cosplay talents at this convention, but here are some of the best of the characters actually inspired by comic book heroes and villains.  Batman and all his baddies were clearly a popular choice among couples and families.  I can't really figure out why.  Maybe it's the warm and fuzzy feeling people get thinking about psychotic criminals, and anti-social billionaires...

Friday, October 11, 2013

#NYCC Cosplay Report: Lolitas, Doctor Who, Steampunk and Goths

Here's my photo album of New York Comic-Con Day 1.  Cosplay is as big as ever and the main thoroughfare on the floor was a parade of costumed goodness.  Lolitas were popular with women of all ages.  Corsets were very popular whether you were in costume or not.  All variations of Doctor Who were popular in both genders.

Stay tuned for Day 2...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stylish Nightmares from the Dead Dream Machine

Photos by Michael Blase
I had the pleasure of trekking out to East Williamsburg (Bushwick) NY last night to experience the new production, The Dead Dream Machine.  It was a theater experience that combined a series of horror vignettes, aerialists, burlesque, puppetry, vocalists and ballet.

The show was written by Jake Thomas, a horror enthusiast and also Marvel Comics editor.  The basic frame of the play is revolves around a mad scientist (Eric Schmalenberger) testing his dream extracting machine on an ingenue.  The various sketches focus on fears, nightmares, satire of horror movies and romance.  One of the most effective scenes was of a psychologist experimenting on a romantic interest. It was disturbing and made you squirm as you watched the victim zapped into a vegetable, then segued into a creepy sexy zombie dance.  Another was a woman who tortures a big pharma executive into having a soul.   

The director, Rachel Klein has a terrific Gothic aesthetic that I love in her productions.  She mixes style and sensuality into her visual storytelling.  Outside of the verbal narrative, the cast of performance artists, aerialists and dancers from the the NYC alternative theater scene physically express the wickedness of the stories onstage.  

The show runs until October 13, 2013 and you need to get tickets now!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Is Nicole Miller Channeling Tim Burton?

Do you remember Nicole Miller?  Many of us bought our prom dresses from this designer who was super hot in the 1990's.  She has a new design direction now away from cutesy frocks towards a more urban, sleek sportswear look.

While her recent Spring 2014 collection was very pretty, I had to wonder if there was a Tim Burton movie marathon running at her design studio.  From my position in the front row, I swear I saw Beetlejuice, Sally from A Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands coming down the runway...  Am I crazy?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Eiko Ishioka at the Museum of the Moving Image

dracula costumes
Eiko Ishioka  was best known as the creator of the costumes on Bram Stoker’s Dracula in collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola.  She came from a production design background which shows in the architectural nature of her costumes.   Ms. Ishioka's work on Dracula is part of a terrific exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image, Persol: Magnifient Obsessions.  The exhibit features 30 different professionals in the film industry and examines their creative process in great detail.

In her section of the show, you can see that instead of the cliché satin lined cape, she designed Count Dracul’s armor to resemble anatomic muscles and veins.  While this was a period movie, her ensembles did not adhere to strict period construction.  The silhouettes resembled the Victorian time period, but at close inspection, the pleats and draping had very structured, origami-like shapes that were their own fashion sculpture. 

While I have seen many traditional costume design sketches from classic movies and costumers, it was interesting to see how different Ishioka's process was.  Ishioka’s sketches were big, barely a pencil outline for hands or faces.  The illustrations were only partially rendered.  The areas that were illustrated were intricately detailed, like the starched lace ruff on Lucy, the embroidery on Mina’s gown or the individual muscle tissue on Dracula.  Traditional costume renderings always had detailed faces and characters resembling the actors who would play them.

Eiko Ishioka was an artist and icon in this field.  She pushed the genre of film costume to new boundaries.  How did she inspire you?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Street Style: Marilyn Manson Fans

I was in South Beach last week to shoot all the runways for Miami Fashion Week Swim.  Two blocks west, a different display of style was going on.  The sidewalks were an anti-runway of Gothic fashion, fetish and punk style.  The occasion?  The concert of Marilyn Manson of course.

  This was a stark contrast to the tanned, bikini-sporting models at the Raleigh Hotel.  I was particularly impressed with the dedication of these fans with the stockings and lace-up boots in the humidity and heat of Florida.  How is it that no one seems to be sweating except me?  The ladies looked great, but guys got into the act with edgy rocker style as well.  

I wish someone would tell me how to wear this much eyeliner without having it run at these temperatures.  Really, anyone?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Steampunk Around the World (In 80 Days)

Looking for a visual feast of theater in NYC? Seek out the lush Steampunk production of Around the World in 80 Days this summer Off-Broadway at the New Theater.  The show is a comedic romp through the vision of vintage style and Jules Verne-inspired wonder.

The director and costume designer Rachel Klein is the amazing talent behind other dark theater pleasures like the Symphony of Shadows and the Tragedy of Maria Macabre.  For this show, they assembled an award-winning team of creatives like  Scenic Design by Robert Andrew Kovach,  and Lighting Design by Ben Kato.

Check out the trailer below and get tickets here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Steampunk at Museums at Night

A photo of a man dressed as a Victorian steampunk in an underground setting
a photo of Jake and Dinos Chapman in their studio
If you are lucky enough to be in the U.K. the next 3 days, you need to check out Culture 24's Museums at Night Festival.  There are sleepovers, cultural events, parties and all sorts of interactive performances of weird, dark, fantastical and creative anachronistic adventure.  The events are held at various heritage sites like palaces and Gothic libraries.

For Steampunk fans, check out In The Company of the Curious: Steampunk at Dragon Hall where you can enjoy Victorian dueling (with umbrellas and canes), an experimental installation by mechanical theater company Rapid Gambit, at Twilight Tea bar and Lady Isobel's Polite Peepshow...

The events take place May 16-19, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Punk Fashion at the Met

I apologize for not being able to update for awhile.  I figured I owed you something good... The Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art felt worthy of my comeback.  The all-stars of dark and subversive fashion like Gareth Pugh, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Martin Margiela, Anne Demeulemeester and Viktor & Rolf kept company with all the other Haute Couture darlings of the style elite.

What is punk fashion?  The exhibit examines its roots from New York's CBGB music venue to Macolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's shop on King's Road.  The aesthetic of hardware (safety pins and spikes) and DIY (graffiti, re-purposing garbage objects) and destruction (rips, holes and distressed fabrics).

Sure, punk is supposed to be subversive, anti-establishment and inspired by the rebellion of the people. When you see the gorgeous exhibit, you'll realize you never knew it could be so fancy.  Is it still punk when only the elite can afford it?  That's not a question I can answer.

More eye candy:
All photos by Mariana Leung

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Korhani Home's Gothic Bride

Hello sweeties.  I am up at Toronto Fashion Week this week covering the designers of the North.  While Toronto has some terrific boutiques and culture dark style, World Mastercard Fashion Week is generally not the venue for them. 

I was delighted to find some elaborate Gothic looks at the Korhani Home fashion show last night.  This is always one of the shows to look forward to.  They take their collection of home textiles and carpets and transform  them into dramatic themes with fantastic styling.

They took the collection of rugs in muted purples, eggplant, black and grey and transformed them into sweeping gowns, capes and kimono-inspired outfits.  They styled the models wigs into towering Bride of Frankenstein looks and accessorized them with decadent embellishments or pitch black ravens.

What do you think of this magic carpet runway show? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Zombie Fragrance

Sunday night and I'm looking forward to watching someone kick some walker butt on the Walking Dead... While Michonne might have made headbands fashionable for the post-Zombie apocalypse age, I can't say there are too many more style trends created by the show.

Demeter fragrances begs to disagree.  They recently launched a zombie fragrance collection.  When people tell you that you smell like "something died", it generally isn't a compliment.  The product description for the men's fragrance lists notes of the forest floor, mushrooms, the women's as lighter, with dregs from the bottom of a wine barrel... (who knew female corpses were oenophiles?)

The same company also offers a "Funeral Home" fragrance.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Exclusive Interview: Immortal Game Designer CLIFFLEE

The Immortal Game is an edgy film and fashion collaboration between Noir Tribe Media and fashion designer CLIFFLEE.  The film imagines a gorgeous woman who embodies six different chess pieces that are sacrificed throughout the story, inspired by the famous chess match of 1851.

CLIFFLEE is a designer who has worked for iconic names in fashion like Helmut Lang and Jean-Paul Gaultier.  He created the dark, sexy looks for the film from his own collection.  

You can win your own CLIFF LEE Immortal game makeover with Noir Tribe's contest HERE.

We had a chance to get a quick interview with Cliff about his work:

Courtesan Macabre: You left Canada for Paris in 1996 and your resume includes working with some the most prominent designers in fashion today.  Are there any experiences from with previous employers that shape how you work today?

CLIFFLEE: Absolutely. The incredible amount of efforts required in creating a comprehensive collection.

CM: You have a dark, sexy style that is also edgy.  What inspirations inform your overall aesthetic?
 CL: Thank you. I guess mostly from abstract sculpture, painting and contemporary art.

CM: What is your design process? Do you prefer to drape or sketch?
CL: My design process is a combination of images, sketches and draping so they are both equally important to me.

CM: How did you approach the task of creating the looks for each chess character for the Immortal Game?
CL: The look of each character was first created by looking at the shape of each chess piece and then we elaborated the looks through their character symbolism with different accessories for Immortal Game.

CM: Are you a chess player yourself? 
CL: Yes but I don't play as much as I like to anymore unfortunately.
CM: Thanks Cliff!
Enter the Pinterest contest to win the handmade Pawn's hat, umbrella and a custom Pawn's dress made for you by CLIFFLEE himself!  Enter HERE.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Falguni Shane and Peacock Fall 2013

This husband and wife design duo was one of my favorite discoveries this past NY Fashion week.  They got their start making custom pieces for India's elite.  Now their dramatic, luxurious pieces have made their way into international boutiques and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez. 

The prints, the elaborate embroidery, the cyber-futuristic corseting had a dark and edgy feel.  Fierce and glamorous, I would love to strut down Gotham streets or a red carpet in any of these Falguni and Shane Peacock looks.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sergio Davila's Steampunk Muse

Most people love Steampunk as an aesthetic, but see it as a costume.  How do you bring a sense of romance and vintage appreciation into every day sportswear?  Peruvian designer Sergio Davila seems to have solved this question at his recent Fall 2013 fashion show.

Using a love of natural fiber fabrics and classic tailoring techniques, he created a collection for men and women with a vintage color palette of brown, grey, tan and black.  While the inspiration was retro, he updated the styling for more modern tastes.  Leather and brass hardware are nice details to trim shaped collars. Slicked hair for the gents and pin-up girl waves brought back the look of groomed days past...

See the full collection here. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Horror Coiffeur - Charlie Le Mindu Spring 2013

A lesser-known designer made a spooky impact at the Paris couture shows this week... Charlie Le Mindu was inspired by women who "scare him", citing muses like Nina Hagen and Lee Aaron.

He created dramatic dresses made from human hair.  The effect recalled femme fatales of years past as well as striking dominatrix ladies of contemporary times.

What do you think of this collection?
Photos from and Giovanni Giannoni

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lolita Boys? Comme des Garcons all 2013

Comme des Garcons at the recent menswear shows showed a collection that was definitely against the norm of traditional "masculinity".  In addition to the typical black and avant garde clothing from the label, they had male models stroll down the runway in bunny and Mickey Mouse ears from Stephen Jones.  There were pastel jackets, pajama-like pants and fuzzy sweaters...   This was supposed to be an ode to "youth".  Yes, even handsome male models and iconic designers have an awkward phase...


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